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The workplace is no place for social Web sites
[March 29, 2009]

The workplace is no place for social Web sites

(The Dominion Post in Morgantown (WV) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mar. 29--When talking about social networking sites and their relationship to the workplace, one can't help but wonder, "What about looking at social networking sites while at the workplace?" The best bet: Don't, said Susan Robison, interim director of the WVU Career Development Center.

"It's generally not acceptable," she said. "Even if you're on lunch, you're still using your employers' equipment. And there can be repercussions." In other words, even if it's a slow day, don't go thinking you can kill an hour cruising your Facebook page, updating your status, reading your wall and filtering through friend requests.

"When you're spending time on [employers'] computers, that goes to their overhead costs, their intellectual property, you could introduce a possible virus, plus you're on the clock so you're on their time," Robison said. "Webmasters do monitor [your Web usage] and you can get fired for it. They're paying you; you're on their time." The best rule of thumb: Facebook, MySpace and other networking sites are for "friends, family and fun," NOT for the workplace.

"The best thing to do when you get in a new job is meet with the IT people and the managers and find out what the Web policies are," she said.

Virginia Kleist, WVU associate professor for management information systems, said most businesses have "acceptable use policies" in place, meaning that it may be OK to surf the 'Net during one's lunchbreak, or to check a Facebook profile for information that might be needed for a job.

"Often, a certain minimal amount of use of equipment is OK," she said. "But you have to realize that if you're, say, running a business from your [work] computer, that's not OK. Make sure your idea of 'acceptable' and your boss' idea of 'acceptable' are the same. You're on your employer's time when you're on the clock. Make sure you're clear about the rules." To see more of The Dominion Post or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2009, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

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